FACT CHECK: 4 Claims From The Oct. 25 Pennsylvania Debate
Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Republican Pennsylvania senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz faced off for their only debate Oct. 25. The debate was unique due to Fetterman using closed captioning to help him process questions following a stroke in May, according to CBS News. The candidates debated about energy, abortion, crime and other topics.
Here are 4 claims from the debate:
Claim 1: “I’ve always supported fracking,” Fetterman said.
Fetterman commented in an October 2022 interview he did with NBC News where he told the outlet he supports fracking and “supported the energy security we should have in the United States,” according to CNN.
However, his current position contradict Fetterman’s previous comments, including a 2018 interview with left-wing podcast RealProgressives, in which he announced his opposition to fracking, CNN reported.
“I don’t support fracking, at all, and I never have,” Fetterman said during the interview. “I’ve signed the no fossil fuels money pledge. I have never received a dime from any natural gas or oil company whatsoever.”
Fetterman also issued a statement via Twitter, during his 2016 Senate candidacy, indicating he supported a moratorium on fracking until an extraction tax and strict environmental regulations could be met. The lieutenant governor also stated in a 2016 Twitter video that he opposed fracking near residential areas.
Fetterman also called for a “cap” on carbon outputs at least four times since 2009, according to American for Tax Reform.
“Dr. Oz loves free money when it’s a half a million dollar on one of his down on the ranch in Florida and whether it was a $50,000 tax break you know about his farm in Montgomery County,” Fetterman said.
Oz received a tax break on his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion following large-scale home improvements he made, according to documents cited by The Miami Herald. The outlet noted that the tax exemption document, which was signed off by Palm Beach County Commissioners, could “save Oz half a million dollars or more over the next 10 years,” though it was not clear how the Herald reached such an estimate.
Oz also received a $50,000-a-year tax break on a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, home he and his wife purchased for $3.1 million in December 2021, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Oz is said to have qualified for the tax break under the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s “Clean and Green” tax incentive, which is part of Act 319, with the purchase of the home, Tax Buzz indicated.
The incentive encourages homeowners to refrain from land development “by automatically entitling them to preferential property tax assessments,” the outlet reported.
“These radical positions extend behind crime to legalize all drugs,” Oz said.
Fetterman said during a 2015 interview with The Nation that, in addition to supporting marijuana legalization, he would “go further than some of [his] colleagues because [he is] for decriminalizing across the board.” Decriminalization would remove legal penalties for using or possessing drugs, though some minor penalties for drug possession could still exist, such as a civil fine or drug education, according to Turnbridge.
Fetterman justified his position by stating that he saw the topic as a “public-health” issue rather than a criminal issue. He also singled out the country’s “war on drugs” as a reason for the increase in drug presence.
In 2020, Fetterman supported an Oregon referendum that would decriminalize the possession and personal usage of drugs, according to Trib Live. A Fetterman spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer in September that Fetterman “does not support decriminalizing all drugs including heroin, methamphetamines, and other hard drugs.”
“John Fetterman…said he would demand, on this debate stage, that he would demand federally mandated rules for all states…that would allow abortion at 38 weeks, on the delivery table and he would force it to be subsidized by taxpayers all across the country no matter what their personal beliefs are,” Oz said.
Fetterman says on his campaign website that he would vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and repealing the Hyde Amendment (which prevents federal funds going to abortion with some exceptions). The Women’s Health Protection Act would enshrine abortion rights on a federal level and would allow abortions after viability if the women’s health is at risk, according to The Washington Post.
Fetterman has said that he opposed any restrictions on abortion. During a May interview with CNN’s Kasie Hunt, he said he would oppose any restrictions on abortion, including the third trimester. During an April primary debate, in response to a question about whether there were any restrictions on abortion he would find “appropriate,” he said “I don’t believe so, no,” according to National Review.
Out of the more than 900,000 abortions that take place in the United States, around 10,000 take place after 20 weeks, according to pro-abortion rights think tank Guttmacher Institute.
Elias Atienza and Christine Sellers contributed to this report.